What you’re looking at is a steamed white ball of goodness. And the name of it is a mantou, basically a Chinese steamed bun. It’s most often served in Chinese restaurants here in the United States but in Taiwan (and I assume China — never been there lol) you can buy them at bakeries and food stands all over the place. You can also buy them frozen at the Asian marts here in America and steam them at home yourself, but they’re NOTHING compared to homemade ones. Homemade mantous differ from the frozen ones (as do most foods) because a homemade mantou is made with love. Haha, just kidding, but seriously, what is deemed as a “good” mantou is a smooth and puffy surface that is fluffy and soft when you break into it and that is exactly what a homemade mantou will give you.
These little (or large) balls of fluff are so addicting. They don’t have much flavor to them, although, there’s a hint of a sugary sweetness, but you can break one open and stuff it with something savory or eat them on its own as a breakfast roll. I personally like to eat them plain. I like the hint of sugar and the doughy taste. It’s hard to describe why they’re so addicting unless you’ve had one before, but the fluffiness, in my opinion, is what makes them so good. They’re really easy to make too, it just takes a lot of patience to wait for them to rise and rise and steam. Well-worth the wait and it’s so easy to double up the batch so you can make yourself enough for the entire week :) The dough is also refrigerator friendly up to 2 days so you can always come back to making them later if you’re pressed for time.
Thanks, mom for passing this along and showing me how to make them :) you’ll always make the best ones!
Mantou 饅頭 [Chinese Steamed Buns]
Yield: 6 individual medium rolls
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. yeast (if using envelope yeast, use 1 envelope & follow instructions on envelope)
3/4 cup of warm water or milk
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and yeast. Then mix in the vegetable oil.
- Make a well in the middle and slowly pour in the warm water and mix until dough forms into a ball. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment to do all these steps (you won’t have to make a well, just pour everything in).
- Once the dough forms into a ball, begin kneading the dough for 15-20 minutes. If you have some anger you need to let out, this is the perfect thing to make. You can punch the dough and throw it around :)
- After you’re done kneading the dough, put it in a clean large bowl and cover it with a cloth towel. Set in a warm place to rise. About 3 hours.
- After the dough has risen, form into medium sized balls and set each ball on a square baking paper (each ball has its own).
- If you have the time, let the balls sit for 40 minutes to rise more, if not, 20 minutes is good enough.
- Put the buns in a steamer and steam for about 20 minutes until they’re puffy and cooked.
- To reheat them, you can steam them for 2-3 minutes in a steamer.